Homeschool Basics Series, Pt. 2: How We Homeschool

Welcome to Part 2 of my Homeschool Basics series, “How We Homeschool.” If you missed Part 1, “Why We Homeschool,” you can go back and read that post now, then head on back here when you are finished!


I cannot tell you how many times I tried to start writing this post. The theme seemed simple enough. I just wanted to write about what style or method we are currently using in our homeschool. But for some reason I kept trying to come at it from the angle of retelling our journey and how we got where we are today, and that was just not working. But I still do want to tell that story, just some other time. So, without further ado, let’s dive in to how our family is home educating!

 We are human beings, persons, created to live. To have life more abundantly. Wonder together; grow together. Together share the struggles of knowing we cannot perfectly follow God’s law. We are fellow pilgrims. We walk side by side as human beings under the love and authority of Him who made us.

~Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children’s Sake

If you are familiar with the book For the Children’s Sake, you may have already guessed our preferred approach to homeschool. In it, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay discusses her own family’s journey to finding the Charlotte Mason method of education for their children. And that is the method we have chosen as well. If you have not heard of Charlotte Mason before, she was a British educator, teacher trainer, and author in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Miss Mason looked at the trends of the education system at the time and felt that they were not truly meeting the needs or the abilities of student, nor their God-given human nature. So she set out to craft a philosophy and methods based on both classical and modern insights. She then trained parents and teachers to use these ideas and methods with the children under their own tutelage. With the advent of the internet, Charlotte Mason’s own writing as well as several curricula are now readily available to today’s homeschool families as well!

What I love about Charlotte Mason education:

  • The emphasis on valuing the relationships and persons in the home classroom, not just the academic material.
  • The basis of texts called “living books” and hands on materials forming the curriculum rather than textbooks or workbooks.
  • The centrality of the fine arts (music, visual arts, poetry and plays) as parts of the curriculum rather than extra-curriculars.
  • The importance of nature study and time outdoors observing and interacting with creation as a foundation for the sciences.
  • The foundation in biblical Christian principles (although there are many secular CM-style homeschoolers out there, as well!)

Miss Mason’s ideas were both rooted in her understanding of classical education from the Greeks and Romans to Medieval times, as well as forward thinking using the latest theories in child development. When I look at the list above, it makes me chuckle because Mason was a huge proponent of a “multi-sensory” approach to learning before that was even a buzzword!

If you are interested in learning more about the Charlotte Mason method and her philosophy of education, there are a few great online resources you should check out.

  1. AmblesideOnline.org: This fabulous (and free!) website has not only the full text of Mason’s 6 volumes (her books on education) available to read online, as well as modern paraphrases of each, but also a vast number of articles published by her magazine “The Parents Review.” Even more than that, AmblesideOnline has a complete curriculum for FREE online! This is the curriculum we have been using over the past year, and I absolutely love it. Another great resource is the AmblesideOnline forum, where you can ask questions and have discussions with other AO parents, including the amazing women who created the curriculum in the first place. I really cannot say enough good things about AO!
  2. Charlotte Mason Institute: CMI seeks to promote education about Charlotte Mason and her principles to people all over the world. They host conference and retreats, have an informational blog and also have a new curriculum for sale. Although I personally have not used many resources offered by CMI, I know many homeschool families find it to be a help.
  3. Simply Charlotte Mason: Another great place to find not only information about Charlotte Mason education, but also curriculum for sale, as well as a discussion forum for parents using their curriculum.
  4. Charlotte Mason in Community: This is a little different than the previous 3 resources in that it is no much a place to get information, but rather a place to find other CM families in your local area. Whether you are looking for a nature group, book study group, or just a group to get together and chat with while your kids play at the park, this is one of the first place to check and see if there is a CM community established near you!

Those are just the beginning of the wealth of knowledge that is out there for those of us trying to incorporate Mason’s principles into our homes and lives. Sometime I will probably write a post including my favorite podcasts, blogs and other places online to get inspiration for a classical, living books education at home. But I think that will be all for today.

Thanks for joining me here at Tuning Hearts today! See you back here again next week for Part 3 of our Homeschool Basics Series all about how we schedule our year. In the mean time, I would love to hear from you about what style of homeschooling you follow!

P.S.–There are now a couple of new printings of Miss Mason’s original volumes available for purchase! One is from Simply Charlotte Mason, and the other is available via Amazon, reprinted by Living Books Press.

Read the next post in this series, Year-Round Schooling, here.

Homeschool Basics Series, Pt. 1: Why We Homeschool

Welcome to Part 1 of the Homeschool Basics Series! In this first post I will discuss why we chose to homeschool our children. I hope you will join in the discussion!

According to an article published at CNSnews.com on May 19, 2015, the number of homeschooled children in the United States had risen nearly 62% between 2003-2012. No doubt about it, that is a HUGE increase in parents choosing to educate their children at home! As the popularity of homeschooling rises, so do the varied reasons that parents cite for choosing home education over public or private school settings. Kyle Greenwalt discusses this change in his 2016 article for TheConversation.com, saying that although the initial catalyst homeschool movement of the 1980s was primarily religion-based, research on the recent trends shows that is no longer the case. The current homeschooling community is actually about as diverse as the nation’s population itself.

Since every family has its own unique reasons for homeschooling, we really can’t make assumptions or generalizations about the reasons that friends and acquaintances are keeping their children home. What led your family to make this decision may be entirely different than the catalyst for mine. So why do WE homeschool?

I think that the above quote from The Liberal Arts Tradition sums up our reason for home educating better than anything I could say.

Education is more than the transference of knowledge; it is the transmission of values, culture, and the proper ordering of loves.

As a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to be the primary influence over my children’s education, and not just in the academic arena. Academics were certainly a big reason we chose to homeschool, especially since my husband works in higher ed himself! But an even stronger driving force in our decision to homeschool was the desire to foster a different culture in our home than what is prevalent in America today. We truly are interested in passing on our values and loves to our children, and the best way for us to do that at this time is to keep them home for their schooling. Even though the idea of being solely responsible for educating my children was very intimidating at first (and still is when I think about later years), I came to recognize that this was actually God’s calling for me as a mother, to disciple my children.

There are certainly a lot of perks to homeschooling. I don’t have to rush my children out the door every morning and then bring them home late in the afternoon to do homework all evening. I can create an individualized education plan for each of my children based on their own needs and interests. I can more adequately and easily provide for our family’s dietary needs and restrictions without the hassle of sending special food and notes to school each day. My kids have time and space to be kids and pursue their individual interests. We can choose curricula that supports our beliefs and ideals as a family. I can easily adjust our schedule to work around vacations, appointments, illness or whatever else comes up. But all these advantages are not the main reason we chose homeschooling.

Perhaps the best way to sum up our main motivation for home education is the command God gave to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

For me, homeschool is about discipling my children. It is about having the time together to really know my kids and how they tick so that I can better prepare the soil of their hearts to receive the seed of the Gospel. It is about passing on our family values and traditions that make up our unique family culture. And on hard days when it seems like we just need to get through the next handwriting worksheet or math lesson without a meltdown, I need to remind myself of these things. It is not just about the “three R’s”. It is about the Relationships.

How about you? Have you considered educating your children at home? If you do homeschool, what was the driving force behind your decision? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Read Part 2 of this series, How We Homeschool, here. Read More

You Have to Start Somewhere

Writer's block. 

Usually when I think about having writer's block I associate it with the feeling that you have no idea what to write. But I guess that is not really quite accurate. Maybe more often it is the case that you have so many ideas that you don't know where to start. At least that is how I feel right now. I have so many subjects I could write about that choosing one for the very first post on a brand new blog is difficult, to say the least! But I really do have to start somewhere, so I suppose the most logical thing to do would be to write a bit of an intro to me and my blog here.

I actually already have a little bio of me and my family on my About page, so if you want to read that, click on over there. I feel like being a bit more informal in this post, though. This is not my first blog, but it is the first I have started with a real purpose and direction in mind. I have previously blogged mostly about my hobbies, especially knitting and crochet, and for several years I owned an Etsy shop where I sold handmade goods and patterns I designed. Once I started homeschooling my son, the same year I also gave birth to our daughter, I found I simply did not have the drive nor the time to continue that business. I still do some crafting for my own pleasure, but not anywhere near to what I did when I was filling orders on a regular basis. Since most of my blogging was centered around those pursuits, when I closed my shop, I pretty much quit writing, too. And I never really missed it until recently.

When I discovered the classical Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, I simultaneously regained a lost love of reading. I also started finding a wealth of helpful information online via homeschooling and classical education blogs. After a while, I started to wish I had a format where I could share what I was learning and reading and thinking, not just about home education, but about life in general. I do post quite a bit on Instagram, but that format has its limitations. I realized that maybe it was time to return to the blogosphere as an author, not just as a reader. I hesitated for a long time because I wasn't sure I had much wisdom or anything new to say that hasn't already been said a hundred times. But even in the mundane, average, realness of my life, there are things that are unique to me and my family. I have had a unique set of experiences that have shaped me to be who I am today, and perhaps sharing some of those things here will help or encourage someone else along the way. 

So that is a little different take on why I am writing here in the first place. Just for fun, here are 7 random bits of trivia about me:

  • I have a major sweet tooth. Don't hand me a bag of jelly beans unless you don't ever want to see it again!
  • My parents will either tell you they made up my name by mixing up the letters in "Kelli," or based it on a TV character's name, depending on who or when you ask!
  • I have been on 4 continents and in 7 countries, but never Canada.
  • I could eat pizza, Mexican food, and Thai food on an endless rotation and be perfectly happy.
  • I cut my own hair. Yes, I really do. It is naturally curly and hides mistakes really well! 
  • I cannot read distopian fiction. I get extremely depressed if I do. The Lord of the Flies horrified me (as it was supposed to, I am sure!), and I put down 1984 without ever finishing it. 
  • One of my childhood hobbies was recording myself reading books on a cassette tape recorder. I still kind of think it would be fun to be an audio book narrator!

So, that's it! There. . . I started! I am so glad you are along for the ride!